Symposium on the Future of Libraries Schedule

The Symposium on the Future of Libraries takes place Saturday, Sunday, and Monday of Midwinter. Each day follows a similar format, with plenary sessions in the morning, concurrent sessions throughout the day, and a wrap-up discussion to bring our thoughts together. 

The Symposium's schedule is provided below - additional sessions may still be added. Links to each session's information in the online scheduler are provided to help facilitate building your Midwinter schedule.

Please note that while the plenary sessions focus on three distinct areas of innovation, each day's events will look across areas of innovation and are not limited to the theme of that day's plenary session.

Saturday, January 21

8:30 am – 10:00 am Plenary Session – Social Innovation

A conversation with Atlanta-based social innovators, leveraging
unique approaches to address persistent social problems and
improve the lives of communities.

Additional plenary session information. 

10:30 am – 11:30 am Concurrent Sessions


The Future of Librarian Labor
Emily Drabinski, Coordinator of Library Instruction, LIU Brooklyn
Eamon Tewell, Reference and Instruction Librarian, Long Island University, Brooklyn

In an era of unprecedented attacks on teaching and learning in higher education, how can librarians mobilize to advocate for their own wages and working conditions, which can be understood as the learning conditions of students? This session will explore labor issues in academic libraries in the context of a future marked by increasing management control. Participants will explore strategies including union struggle and cross-sector organizing as modes for working against transfers of institutional power from libraries and classrooms to administration. This session will be of interest to academic librarians in both public and private sectors. 

Knowledge Discovery: The Next Generation
Ruth Pickering, Co-Founder and Chief Business Development & Strategy Officer, Yewno
Michael Keller, University Librarian, Stanford University
Chris Bourg, Director, MIT Libraries
Cheryl McGrath, Director, Stonehill College

The ability to make connections between concepts from the vast ocean of literature spanning across various disciplines has long been the dream of librarians whose objective is to create an environment of knowledge discovery rather than a repository of content. By extracting knowledge and meaning from text, Yewno recalls the serendipity of browsing a shelf and finding the unknown. 

The Library's Evolution into Centers of Innovation and Learning
Crystle Martin, Postdoctoral Researcher, Digital Media and Learning Hub, University of California, Irvine
Libraries are positioned to address growing equity issues. To do this libraries need to focus on supporting equitable access to technology, career and college readiness and innovative and entrepreneurial opportunities, especially in areas that are underserved. This session will focus on transforming the way service is approached, as well as ways to create change without the need for huge investments in technology. It will particularly focus on future facing frameworks for envisioning your programs and services. Come and join the discussion of how we can transform libraries through service. 

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Concurrent Sessions


Enhancing Public Library Programs Through a Family Engagement Framework 
Christine Hage, Director, Rochester Hills Public Library
Margaret Caspe Klein, PhD ,Senior Research Analyst, Harvard Family Research Project, Harvard Graduate School of Education

Maren Ostergard, Early Learning Librarian, King County Library System  
Jo Giudice, Director of Libraries, City of Dallas  
Judy T Nelson, Customer Experience Manager – Youth, Pierce County Library System
Public libraries can elevate the family voice in their work, build professional capacity for family engagement, and develop strong community partnerships to support families. Learn how the new, research-based 5Rs framework (reach out, raise up, reinforce, relate, and reimagine) can apply to your library, and hear practical examples of family engagement programs from libraries featured in the new PLA/Harvard IDEABOOK. Move your library into the future through orientation to family engagement, securing resources and partners, and collaborating with your community to help caregivers better engage in their children’s learning and education. 

Going Fully Mobile: Eliminate the Desk, Eliminate Barriers, Improve Service
Gregory A. Edwards, Deputy Director, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County
Kimber L. Fender, The Eva Jane Romaine Coombe Director, The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County

The Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County has successfully eliminated the public service desk as five branches and a number of service departments at the Main Library. Staff now use tablets to roam and meet the customer where he/she is, not force the customer to come to us. The model incorporates self-check-out/in, self registration, self-service holds, cordless phones, and a cashless environment - no money changes hands. Attend this program and learn how Cincinnati overcame the numerous challenges to make Fully Mobile a reality, and how it positively impacted service.

One-Stop Shop for the Research Lifecycle: Effects of High-Impact Educational Practices on Library Spaces and Services in the Near- and Long-term 
***Please note, this session has been canceled***

Ngoc-Yen Tran, Academic Liaison Librarian, San Jose State University
Higher education institutions of all sizes are focused on increasing retention and graduation rates and improving student engagement and learning through the usage of High-Impact Educational Practices (HIPs). This emphasis on HIPs have changed (and will continue to change) the spaces and services that university and college libraries offer, especially as libraries become the all-inclusive place in supporting the research lifecycle. Therefore, it is important for library staff to understand what HIPs are, how institutions are using them, and the impact that they already have and may have on libraries in the near- and long-term.

TEDx and TED Ed: How Kids & Communities Can Create an Innovative Event to “Learn Forward” Forever
Sara Duvall, Curator, [email protected], District Chair for Secondary Library Services, Lead for Media and Technology Ann Arbor Skyline High School, Ann Arbor Public Schools
HELLO potential TEDsters! Have you been toying with the idea of organizing a TEDx event or a TEDED Club? Want to help kids develop leadership skills and 21st Century Fluencies through self-motivated learning? This session is practical and encompasses how-to’s, examples, resources and advice from TEDx veteran, Dr. Sara Duvall, Curator, [email protected] Come and learn this innovative strategy for project based and digital age learning. TEDx (9-12+) and TEDED (K-8) - we cover it all! 

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Concurrent Sessions


The Creative Edge: The Art of Creativity Programming in Libraries
Mary C. Fletcher, Library Specialist, Avon Free Public Library
Kari Ann St. Jean, Children's and Teen Services Manager, Avon Free Public Library

Libraries can go beyond being places of information to also become places of inspiration. "Imagination is more important than knowledge..." according to Einstein. So, how is creative thought inspired? Learn from a library that received national recognition for innovative art-based creativity programming for children of all ages and their caregivers. The Avon Free Public Library was chosen by ALSC to receive the Curiosity Creates grant funded by Disney and to document their experiences in a journal article "On the Creative Edge" published in Children and Libraries. Discover the elements of design, implementation and documentation of programs that truly inspire creativity. 

The Future of Innovation: How Libraries Support Entrepreneurs
Ilana Stonebraker, Assistant Professor (Business Information Specialist), Purdue University
Joe Collier, Business Reference Librarian, Mount Prospect Public Library
Heather Howard, Assistant Professor (Business Information Specialist), Purdue University
Saira Raza, Business Librarian, Goizueta Business Library, Emory University

Entrepreneurship is “fast emerging as a transformational megatrend of the 21st century” with “capacity to reshape economies and industries throughout the world” (Entrepreneur, 2015). This panel of academic and public librarians will explore the intersections of entrepreneurship, libraries, innovation, and communities. We will discuss best practices and predictions toward the future. How will libraries help shape the future of entrepreneurship? How will entrepreneurs shape the future of libraries? This session is intended to be useful for all types of special, corporate, public and academic libraries. 

Taking the Library Viral
Trey Gordner, CEO, Koios
Corinne Hill, Executive Director, Chattanooga Public Library

Libraries interested in effectively marketing a growing collection of services and assets – digital collections, software suites, makerspaces, self-publishing options – need to leverage the new "flow" of online discovery. That “flow” depends on a seamless user experience that transitions digital users through our physical doors and helps patrons easily navigate what could be perceived as a complicated maze of offerings. This session will consider the new system for online discovery, identify opportunities for libraries to extend their reach into that system, and develop a long-term vision of "radical user focus" that challenges basic assumptions tied to cataloging, collections, and circulation.  

Think Universal…To Design Accessible Services for All
Patrice Johnson, Librarian, Chicago Public Library
Pat Herndon, Director, Georgia Library for Accessible Statewide Services at Georgia Public Library Service
Jill Rothstein, Managing Librarian, Andrew Heiskell Braille and Talking Book Library, New York Public Library

The most popular technologies (Apple’s iPhone and iPad) build accessibility into the beginning of their design, creating experiences that are beneficial to all users. When it comes to our own future planning, libraries need to design innovative programs and accessible services that are inclusive of people with disabilities from the first stages of planning. This session will explore insights, strategies, partnerships, and resources that libraries can implement with a focus on serving those with visual and physical disabilities. 


Sunday, January 22

8:30 am – 10:00 am Plenary Session – Civic Innovation

A conversation with Atlanta-based civic innovators, rethinking
public services and spaces to help make cities and communities
work effectively for citizens.

Additional plenary session information. 

10:30 am – 11:30 am   Concurrent Sessions

Bridging the Digital Divide with Open eBooks
Michelle Bickert, Ebook Program Manager, Digital Public Library of America
James English, Senior Product Owner National Platforms, New York Public Library
Michael Bills, Director of Sales - Digital Products, Baker & Taylor
Liz Allen, Product, Clever
Trevor Owens, Supervisory Senior Program Officer, Institute of Museum and Library Services

Open eBooks is an app containing thousands of popular and award-winning titles that are free for kids from in-need communities, without holds or late fees. Since First Lady Michelle Obama announced its launch in February 2016, Open eBooks has received overwhelming feedback from teachers, librarians and students praising the initiative. Attendees will learn more about how the program is being utilized in school classrooms and libraries, how public libraries can help, and best practices for implementation. Attendees will also have a chance to demo the app.    

Building the Future: Public Library Directors and Their Trustees Making Future Policy Decisions Together!
Susan J. Schmidt, President, United for Libraries
Sally Reed, Executive Director, United for Libraries
Fred Stielow, Trustee, Anne Arundel County (Md.) Library System
Peter Pearson, President, The Friends of the Saint Paul Public Library

Public library directors are preparing to consider or are already discussing their future roles in the community, education, and the business of managing the operation of the library. This program will consider how trustees and library directors can communicate about library trends and related policy issues, and understand each other’s role in securing funding for innovation. At the conclusion of the program, attendees will understand some of the future issues that will challenge public library trustees and best practices for action and communication with their library directors.

Collaborating on Libraries’ Digital Futures: A Conversation with New York Public Library's Dr. Anthony Marx
Dr. Anthony Marx, President and CEO,The New York Public Library
Access to knowledge has never been faster or more ubiquitous, making the role of public and research libraries ever more essential. Dr. Anthony Marx will discuss a collaborative vision for all libraries in this digital age and a path forward to ensure that the reading public - students, life-long learners, researchers, and scholars - truly benefits from online access to information. 

School Libraries as Global Educators
Andy Plemmons, School Library Media Specialist, David C. Barrow Elementary
How can the school library create a globally connected classroom? The David C. Barrow Elementary Media Center has used social media, Google Docs, Skype, and Google Hangouts to connect educators and students around the world for events like International Dot Day and World Read Aloud Day, to expand reader’s advisory through a Picture Book Smackdown, and to engage students around the country for America Recycles Day. These schoolwide events have been the beginnings of the global culture that continues to grow in the school.

Sustainable Thinking for the Future of Libraries
Rebekkah Smith Aldrich, Coordinator for Library Sustainability, Mid-Hudson Library System
Libraries must take an active, visible role in building sustainable and resilient communities. Our future depends on it. We will explore the importance of infusing the core value of sustainability into everything we do, and demonstrate how libraries that lead into the future using “sustainable thinking” fulfill our mission as libraries in new and innovative ways. "Sustainable Thinking" is a concept that aligns the core values of libraries with the "Triple Bottom Line" definition of sustainability: economic feasibility, environmental stewardship and social justice to inspire investment and build support for the future.    

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Concurrent Sessions

Building Civic Engagement with a Civic Lab
Amy Koester, Youth & Family Program Supervisor, Skokie Public Library
Amita Lonial, Learning Experiences Manager, Skokie Public Library

Disappearing local news sources and today’s polarized political landscape mean the library’s role as a space for civic engagement is increasingly important. The Civic Lab at Skokie Public Library is a pop-up library that encourages dialogue and engagement on the issues that affect our community. Featuring all-ages collections and resources on major and emerging issues, including climate change and Black Lives Matter, the flexible, mobile space is used for formal and informal programming for families, teens, and adults. Learn about how this type of pop-up space can invigorate civic discourse and literacy in the library and the community.

Collude! Resist! Collaborate! ebook Strategies for the Modern Revolutionary
Veronda Pitchford, Director, Membership Development and Resource Sharing, Reaching Across Illinois Library System
Paula MacKinnon, Interim Director, Califa
Stephen H. Spohn, Jr. Resource Sharing Director, Massachusetts Library System
Mitchell Davis, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer, BiblioLabs

Do you want to be a revolutionary?  Our digital posse innovates with acquisition and access of econtent for the masses. We work with forward thinking publishers, geeky and entrepreneurial ebook vendors, and fabulous funders to co-create models that position libraries as the go-to source for econtent. Our goal: rock the reading ecosystem. Outcomes so far: an ereader app for seamless access across platforms, statewide programs with simultaneous use to eliminate friction to attract new audiences, developing a national library voice in the econtent marketplace and co-conspiring for a better ebook experience. We need you.  Join us.

Immersive and Interactive: Virtual Reality In a Contextually-rich Learning Environment
Matthew Boyer, Assistant Professor of Educational Foundations, Clemson University College of Education
Stephen Moysey, Associate Professor, Clemson University Department of Environmental Engineering and Earth Sciences

How can virtual reality advance immersive, interactive game-based engagement within a contextually-rich learning environment? As part of their Improving Undergraduate STEM Education project, researchers at Clemson university are exploring a VR application as part of their current focus on enabling field experiences through the use of virtual reality. Funded by the National Science Foundation (IUSE award #1504619) this project focuses on developing immersive virtual reality field experiences (VRFE) for use in educational settings with a first product specifically focused on a field experience in a virtual reproduction of the Grand Canyon targeted toward undergraduate introductory geology courses.

Towards A Less Normative Future in Library Services to Children/Teens
Angie Manfredi, Head of Youth Services, Los Alamos County Library System
When we envision the future of libraries, youth services librarians must actively push for de-centralizing Whiteness, particularly in our collection development. This session will help librarians critically evaluate not just the media they purchase for their youth patrons but also the sources that review it. The future of libraries, and of library collections, must reflect the reality of the communities we serve and we, as gatekeepers, need to be advocates for change.    

3:00 pm – 4:00 pm Concurrent Sessions

Building Community, Leading Change: Libraries Transforming Communities
Erica Freudenberger, Outreach Consultant, Southern Adirondack Library System
Nancy Kranich, Lecturer, Rutgers University School of Communication and Information
Ken W. Stewart, School Librarian (Retired), Blue Valley High School

As the nation becomes increasingly divided, communities need conversation more than ever. Libraries are rising to the challenge, bringing people together to tackle challenges large and small. Join us for a discussion with three library leaders – representing a public, an academic and a school library – about how libraries are evolving and becoming leaders in the community engagement/facilitation/dialogue space, and this shift’s impact on the professional and personal practices of library staff. Attendees will also learn about Libraries Transforming Communities (LTC): Community Engagement Models for Change, a new ALA initiative that will offer free community engagement training to libraries of all sizes and types starting in early 2017.

Placemaking and the Public Library
Michelle Jeske, City Librarian, Denver Public Library
Learn how public libraries are participating in placemaking efforts in their communities outside of their library walls. Denver Public Library will share its successes and challenges creating its role in a rapidly changing neighborhood of artists, designers, millennials and more. Discover other public library successes in placemaking in their communities and discuss the challenges of public/private partnerships. The program will include time for sharing. 

Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Recommendations: An Equitable Future for ALA and the Profession
Leslie Scott, Library Director, Prosper Community Library (Texas)
Melissa Cardenas-Dow
Martin Garnar, Dean, Kraemer Family Library, University of Colorado, Colorado Springs
Lessa Pelayo-Lozada, Young Readers Librarian, Palos Verdes Library District
LaJuan Pringle, Branch Manager, Charlotte Mecklenburg Library

ALA’s Task Force on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion has developed a plan and strategic actions to build more equity, diversity, and inclusion among our members, the field of librarianship, and our communities. As these recommendations shift to an Implementation Working Group in 2016-2018, we will need to continue the public and honest conversations that help keep these issues at the forefront. Task Force and Working Group members will present the recommendations in the context of the future of the United States and will ask for participation from attendees to help advance our profession to reflect and represent our nation’s ever-increasing diversity. All library workers will benefit from learning how they can contribute to this important work.

Thinking Broadly and Creatively: MIT’s Future of Libraries Report
Chris Bourg, Director, MIT Libraries
Greg Eow, Associate Director for Collections, MIT Libraries
Stephanie Hartman, User Experience Specialist and Content Strategist, MIT Libraries

MIT’s Task Force on the Future of Libraries was charged with developing a vision of how the MIT Libraries could evolve to best advance the creation, dissemination, and preservation of knowledge, not only to support MIT’s mission but also to position the Institute as a leader in the reinvention of research libraries. Through discussions, open forums, and collaborative tools, the Task Force brought together the best thinking of faculty, staff, and students. Its recent report envisions the library as an open global platform rooted in shared values and mission; supported by innovative approaches to community and relationships, discovery and use, and stewardship and sustainability; and informed and enabled by an expanded emphasis on research and development.


4:00 pm – 5:00 pm Day-End Session
  An opportunity to bring our thoughts together through a facilitated 
dialogue that will help build connections.  

Monday, January 23

8:30 am – 10:00 am Plenary Session – Education Innovation

A conversation with Atlanta-based education innovators, reimagining
learning for K-12 and higher education.

Additional plenary session information. 

10:30 am – 11:30 am   Concurrent Sessions

21st Century Library Ethics
Sarah Houghton, Director, San Rafael Public Library
As the world goes increasingly digital, the climate surrounding information politics becomes increasingly convoluted. Libraries are caught in the heart of these tangled issues. When was the last time you looked at the ethical statements of our profession? When you sign contracts and revise policies are you keeping those ethics in mind? As you develop programs for your users are you thinking about how to fold in the ethics of freedom of information and privacy? If not, now's a great time to start.  

Crafting Successful Youth Civic Engagement in Information Spaces
Chaebong Nam, Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of Government, Harvard University
Libraries are the key information space for young people to engage in a range of connected digital experiences. How can information professionals help young people leverage libraries to craft successful civic engagement—not only physical space but human, organizational, and social resources¬¬? To address this issue, in part, participants will learn of an action-reflection frame for youth participation developed by MacArthur Foundation’s Research Network on Youth Participatory Politics. Then, they can discuss practical steps to infuse the frame into practice. Library professionals who closely work with youth are welcome, especially youth services librarians and school librarians. 

Library Exhibitions Unbound: Lessons for the Future from a Decade of Special Projects at the Boston Public Library
Jonathan Alger, Managing Partner, C&G Partners
Beth Prindle, Head of Special Collections, Boston Public Library

Library exhibits are evolving to incorporate interactive elements, participatory experiences, and tech-driven media installations. The future of exhibits remains focused on engaging and informing the public, but new tools and approaches allow library professionals to design their exhibits in exciting new ways. This session will bring together two perspectives - Beth Prindle, Head of Special Collections at Boston Public Library, and Jonathan Alger, exhibit designer and co-founder of C&G Partners - to talk about the evolution of library exhibits and the growing relationship between library professionals and designers and technologists. Prindle and Alger will share the tools and techniques that have helped Boston Public Library - and can help other libraries - implement their own innovative exhibit experiences.

1:30 pm – 2:30 pm Day-end Discussion
  An opportunity to bring our thoughts together through a facilitated 
dialogue that will help build connections.